The Heinrich Manoeuvre

2009-06-13 00:00

HEINRICH Brüssow, the Free State Cheetahs flank who was a surprise omission from Peter de Villiers’ Springbok squad, could still play in the first Test against the British Lions in Durban next weekend.

Springbok flank Schalk Burger, who is nursing a calf strain, has not practised with the Springboks this week and he seems certain to miss the opening Test.

The loss of Burger, one of the most experienced forwards in the team with 49 Test caps, would be a major setback for the Boks but he had a quiet Super 14 for the Stormers and displayed little of the rumbustious form which earned him the IRB Player of the Year award in 2004.

Burger missed the last three weeks of the Super 14 with a nagging calf problem and the injury has not responded to treatment.

While most South African supporters would see Brüssow as the obvious replacement, particularly after his excellent form against the Lions in the tour game, the evidence this week suggests that De Villiers will opt for the bulk of Danie Rossouw on the flank.

Rossouw, the Bulls utility forward, has practised in Burger’s place all week but it is expected that Brüssow, a specialist fetcher, will be called into the squad to act as cover off the bench.

This would allow the Boks to benefit from Rossouw’s physical presence in the first half of what promises to be a torrid Test match before tapping into Brüssow’s ball-fetching ability when the game is spread wider in the second half.

Bok captain John Smit this week told reporters what he thought of Brüssow.

”I played against him in the Super 14 and he definitely caused us problems. He is very good,” said Smit. “Teams who play against the All Blacks have to deal with Richie McCaw at the breakdown. You get special players like that. Heinrich is only four foot two and was born to steal balls three inches off the ground,” he added with a smile.

The only other loose forward in the 28-man squad is Ryan Kankowski, a specialist number eight, who missed the midweek game against the Lions because of injury.

De Villiers, for the moment anyway, appears happy to accept that Frans Steyn can sign for a French club and stay with his Springbok squad and the 22-year-old Sharks player looks certain to start at fullback next Saturday.

Ruan Pienaar, if fully recovered from his ankle injury, will be at flyhalf ahead of Morne Steyn and Jean de Villiers and Adi Jacobs, partners in 11 of the Springboks 13 Tests in 2008, are the expected midfield pairing. Whether Jacobs has fully recovered from his shoulder injury remains to be seen but in Jaque Fourie and Wynand Olivier, there is quality back-up.

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